Whether you’re just starting out or are a few years into your social media strategy, you’ve probably gotten overwhelmed trying to figure out what social media marketing tools to use. Heck, you can waste a lot of time just reading about the tools that are out there.
But before you can find the right tools, you have to make sure you're asking the right questions:
What tools are you already using and do you like using them?Before you jump into new social media marketing tools, it’s important to review the tools you’re already using. From your email vendor to your internal reports, how can an additional social media marketing tool give you better information? Do you like what you’re currently using? If so, what do you like about it? The reporting dashboard? The automated updates? Look for a social media marketing tool that has these same features.
What are you trying to accomplish?This of course goes back to your goals and what you’re ultimately accountable for. If you haven’t set your strategy and your goals, you’re not ready to research tools. You want to look for tools to help you meet your goals, not the other way around.
What activities will help you accomplish your goals?There’s a lot of attention paid to monitoring and “social listening” tools, but don’t forget about the other activities you need to accomplish: planning, publishing, and reporting. You’ll need to find tools to assist in those actions as well.
Who is going to do the work?Whoever it is, make sure they feel comfortable with the tool. Better yet, you and your social media team member should take demos of all potential tools before choosing.
What’s your budget?Unless you have an unlimited social media marketing budget, you’re going to have to pick and choose which free and paid tools you use.
Once you've answered those questions, you're ready to start researching tools. To get the ball rolling, here are a few tools that I use regularly:
Good ol’ Excel spreadsheets—for editorial and content calendars
Google Alerts—still the easiest way to listen on the Internet
HooteSuite—the free version for publishing, the paid version for monitoring
Zapier—My new favorite tool. Basically a Swiss Army knife of social tools.
PicMonkey—To make quick profile cover photos
- Recite This—To make quick quote graphics
I encourage you to adopt a test-and-evaluate mindset with everything you do in social media—from your posts and campaigns to your tools. If you’re unsure about a tool, take it for a test run with the free version or a month-to-month paid version.
Whether it’s a plumber or digital marketer, I would much rather work with someone who knows their tools inside and out rather than someone who has the shiniest new tools and only a rudimentary grasp on how to use them. So roll up your sleeves, get to work, and learn how to make the best use of whatever tools your budget affords you.